Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

A Case for More Girls’ Sports Teams in YA, a guest post by Emma Kress

While sports books featuring boys have been on shelves for decades, those depicting girls as equally committed and serious about their sport could fit on a much smaller set of shelves. As an English teacher, I taught many female students who were deeply dedicated to their sports, and yet I had few books to place in their hands when they were looking for a book to act as a mirror, rather than a window.

That said, there were a few. When I first started writing Dangerous Play back in 2014, there were several wonderful books featuring sporty girls: Dairy Queen (2006), by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, remains one of my favorite books about a girl athlete; and Miranda Kenneally started publishing books about girl athletes back in 2011. But my athletic girl students wanted more.

Thankfully, this is changing.

Now, there are several wonderful books featuring devoted girl athletes. Just this year, we can add young-adult debuts like Holly Green’s In the Same Boat, Sajni Patel’s The Knockout, and Mariko Turk’s The Other Side of Perfect to our shelves. And last year, I was blown away by Yamile Saied Mendez’s Furia, Sarah Henning’s Throw Like A Girl, and Jennifer Iacopelli’s Break the Fall.

Thrillingly, there are more athletic books featuring non-binary characters too. Check out contemporary young-adult debuts The Passing Playbook, by Isaac Fitzsimmons, and May the Best Man Win, by ZR Ellor.

It’s all the more important that these feminist athletic books exist because in the past, toxic masculinity was as much a part of sports culture as cleats and sneakers. In so many movies and books, not only was there no space left on the page for the serious girl athlete, but we had to swallow casual misogyny along with our Gatorade. Thankfully, that’s changing. Still, there’s more to do.

In the future, I hope we see more books that feature not just female athletes, but diverse teams of athletic girls working together to achieve their goals. Because while the number of books about athletic girls has increased, few depict girls’ sports teams.

After having written Dangerous Play, which seeks to represent a diverse sports team environment, I think it’s safe to say choosing to focus on a single athletic girl rather than a full sports team might be a matter of writerly sanity. Dangerous Play has a 26+-person cast and phew, it was difficult to juggle that many characters let alone develop them.

And yet, I think it’s important to shine a light on the special and intense friendships that can happen on a competitive sports team, especially for girls. I can list dozens of movies that celebrate bromances on the ice, court, or field. I love sports team movies like Miracle, Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, and Friday Night Lights. I cheer louder at that final underdog victory because of those engaging friendships. But where are our movies celebrating underdog girls’ sports teams and their powerful friendships?

A League of Their Own is pretty much it. Bend It Like Beckham is wonderful, but only depicts the friendship of two members of the team. Ditto for Bring It On. And while I love A League of Their Own, it came out twenty-nine years ago. In this age of real-life GOATs (Greatest Of All Time athletes) like Simone Biles, Lindsay Vonn, Lisa Leslie, Serena Williams, and the entire US Women’s National Soccer Team we can do better. We need to do better.

Solidarity and sisterhood are critical parts of my feminism. And, while I adore a good romance, I think for most teens, romantic relationships aren’t the defining relationships of their teen years—friendships are. And friendships can be so much more complex and intense when we place them inside the pressure cooker of a competitive and grueling sport.

Athletes on school teams practice several hours every day during the season. Pre-season is filled with pick-up games, demanding tryouts, and “two-a-day” practices. Then, there are the long road trips on stinky school buses. Anyone who has participated in a school play or spent long hours in a newspaper or yearbook office knows the sort of friendships that can bloom during those endless nights. There’s something about those long hours that fosters inside jokes and shorthand slang, made-up dances and elaborate handshakes. There’s an everyday intimacy that develops: you know what someone looks like when they fail a test or forget to eat; you know how they like to sit and the words they overuse. When this shared time is over a shared passion, real intimacy and trust develop. Sports only heightens these connections. Team athletes see each other at their most physically powerful and most physically vulnerable. When they work together to beat the odds, stretch their limits, and claim that trophy, they create a world in which they are all the main characters. They create a world in which power and victory are shared.

I believe that for feminism to move forward, we must be intersectional. What better way to examine intersectional feminist friendships than through a sports team? Let’s see girls of color, trans girls, body-positive girls, queer girls, and girls from varied socio-economic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds on the same teams. If we want to see a future of greater equality and empathy, we need to give the teen girls of today books in which they see groups of diverse girls laughing together, crying together, and working together toward a common goal. If we want to see a future of greater equality and empathy, perhaps we might start by imagining worlds in which the glory is shared.

After all, girl power is best with friends.

Meet the Author

Photo credit: Erin Summerill

Emma Kress is a long-time educator and 2014 finalist for NY State Teacher of the Year. She’s a graduate of Vassar College, Columbia University’s Teachers College, and the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives with her family in Saratoga Springs, NY. Dangerous Play is her debut novel. You can find her on Twitter and TikTok @emma_kress and Instagram @kress.emma, or at www.emmakress.com

About Dangerous Play

Designer: Aurora Parlagreco; Artist: Laura Callaghan

A fierce team of girls takes back the night in this propulsive, electrifying, and high-stakes YA debut from Emma Kress

Zoe Alamandar has one goal: win the State Field Hockey Championships and earn a scholarship that will get her the hell out of Central New York. She and her co-captain Ava Cervantes have assembled a fierce team of dedicated girls who will work hard and play by the rules.

But after Zoe is sexually assaulted at a party, she finds a new goal: make sure no girl feels unsafe again. Zoe and her teammates decide to stop playing by the rules and take justice into their own hands. Soon, their suburban town has a team of superheroes meting out punishments, but one night of vigilantism may cost Zoe her team, the championship, her scholarship, and her future.

Perfect for fans who loved the female friendships of Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie and the bite of Courtney Summer’s Sadie.

ISBN-13: 9781250750488
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication date: 08/03/2021
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years

RevolTeens Need Freedom to Decide for Themselves, by Christine Lively

Working with teens in the library means I read a lot of Young Adult books. Reading them in graduate school made me certain that I wanted to work with teens, not younger kids. What great Young Adult books do for me is take me instantly back to my own adolescence – the frustrations, the pressure, the uncertainty, and the thrills that are unique to that time in my life. I firmly believe that reading YA books make me a better teacher, librarian, and parent.

So many well meaning adults: parents, teachers, and coaches think they know what is best for teens. We look back at our own adolescence and think, “If I had just _____ my life would have turned out differently. I know I have thought that many times looking back. When we look at the opportunities and decisions that teens have in front of them, we think we know “what’s best” for them. We want to spare them from the mistakes we think they might be making or help them to find the best opportunities. That’s the problem.

You cannot “program” teens. As they have made their way through adolescence and into early adulthood, I see so clearly now that my own kids never did anything because I suggested it, or thought it was a good idea. They did things when they decided it was a good idea. Even if their chosen course was the very idea I told them about or suggested, they never made a decision based on my suggestions – they had to decide themselves.

Adults working with teens need to remember this. It has to be their decision and in a lot of cases, it has to be their idea. If we force them to do things “our way” or because we know best, they will not enjoy it, and they probably won’t even do it. They may even decide to do the opposite because they’re so frustrated.

In other words, they may become RevolTeens who use all their energy fighting off the pressure of the well meaning adults in their lives instead of changing the world in their own way.

In this column, I have highlighted some incredible teens who have challenged rules, prejudices, and defied expectations. I celebrate them for not “doing what they’re told.” Many, if not most of these teens have the support of adults in their lives who have honored their decisions and supported their ideas. We need to be those adults. Here are some ideas for supporting teens’ decisions instead of trying to “program” them.

Offer as many forms of participation as possible. One thing that we learned from the lockdown is that different forms of participation are really helpful. Make sure when you offer events, challenges or other programs that you give teens different ways to participate. Generating ideas, writing responses, virtual attendance, and other options will serve more teens. The teens who love to attend events in person will still enjoy the experience. Ask teens how they might like to participate for more ideas.

Gather ideas and support initiatives. Ask them what they want. Fun polls, interest forms, casual conversations, and advisory boards are all great ways to find out what teens want. When teens come to you with ideas, support their ideas. Often, the most successful programs are the ones that are their idea. An enthusiastic peer will generate more excitement and participation than anything an adult could ever design or advertise.

Provide materials and collections that support the huge range of interests and ideas that teens have. Every week, a student will come into the library and ask me if we have a book or other materials about a subject that surprises me. I ask, “You want to read about that?” or “You’re interested in that?” like a dope. I am always so grateful when they do. I couldn’t possibly anticipate what they’re going to be into. My best hope is to try to be as open to diverse topics, stories, games, and information to have something that will engage them, help them make decisions, and keep their curiosity going.

Encourage exploration. Connections come in some mysterious ways, and teens are great at following a web. They’re adept at google searching, and at connecting music to books to movies to video games. Help teens to see the connections between themselves and the world. Help them see that what they’re interested in is important just because they like it. Not everything has to be an academic endeavor, some things are just cool. I love that about the library, and I want teens to know it too.

Respect diversity in everything. If you make a mistake, or overlook something you didn’t consider, apologize and fix it. Teens respect good intentions, but only when there is action behind it. If they don’t see their own experiences or the experiences they want to have reflected in the library, they’ll stop coming. If they know that everyone is welcome and that their identities, personalities, talents, forms of expression, and interests are valued, they’ll stay and find themselves.

When we stop programming teens or thinking we know what’s best, we can step back and let them decide what they want to do, how they want to do it, and we can stand back in awe.

About Christine Lively

Christine Lively a school librarian in Virginia. I read voraciously, exchange ideas with students, and am a perpetual student. I raise monarch butterflies, cook, clean infrequently and enjoy an extensive hippo collection. I am a Certified Life Coach for Kids 14-24 and my website is christinelively.com. Christine blogs at https://hippodillycircus.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/XineLively.

Confessions of a Binge Reader (and Writer), a guest post by Marilyn Kaye

I started reading at a very young age. At home, or maybe in kindergarten, I learned the alphabet. Immediately, I started sounding out words wherever I saw them—on cereal boxes, on signs, in newspapers. Even if I didn’t understand the words, I could say them or just hear them in my head, and that gave me satisfaction.

On the first day of first grade, the teacher handed out copies of Fun with Dick and Jane. Since I was short, I was in the first row so I received my book right away. Immediately, I opened it and began to read. By the time the last student in the class got a book, I’d finished mine. When I realized that we’d be looking at this book for weeks to come, I got very depressed. Dick and Jane were not a lot of fun.

Fortunately, there were children’s books at home. I’m not sure where they came from—looking back, I think they might have been my mother’s since they were published in the 1930s. There were several volumes of ‘The Bobbsey Twins’, which I devoured. Nan, Bert, Flossie, and Freddie may not have been the most finely developed characters, but at that point in time I didn’t have high expectations or demands. At least, unlike Dick and Jane, they spoke in sentences of more than three words. And there were the ‘Honey Bunch’ books, about a little girl with curly blonde hair who got into adventures with her friend Norman. The Bobbseys and Honey Bunch were my introduction to series books.

As my reading skills developed, I moved up to ‘Nancy Drew’ and ‘The Dana Girls.’ It wasn’t until many years later, in library school, that I learned about the Stratemeyer Syndicate which had created some of the series that I loved. I learned that Laura Lee Hope and Carolyn Keene weren’t real writers, just pseudonyms, that the characters in the books and the plots were created by the syndicate who then hired free-lance writers to actually compose the stories. But even if I had known this at the time, it wouldn’t have bothered me. I was now addicted to series, and I didn’t care who wrote them.

As a child, I was taken to the public library regularly, and there I discovered more ‘upscale’ series, like the ‘Little House’ books and ‘Betsy-Tacy.’ And there was Beany Malone, Cherry Ames, Sue Barton, Rosamund du Jardin’s ‘Pam and Penny.’ I’d get very excited when I found a new series, and I was insistent on reading the books in the right order. I remember the time I was returning Heavens to Betsy to the library, and the next book in the series, Betsy in Spite of Herself, was not on the shelf. There was the title that came after that one, Betsy Was a Junior, but I couldn’t bring myself to jump ahead.

Then there were the supermarket books! I called them that because that was where I found them, on a rack next to magazines at the check-out counter. I would plead with my mother until she gave in and bought me the latest Donna Parker or Trixie Belden.

Of course, I read books that weren’t in series, and I loved the great writers of the period—Elizabeth Enright, Eleanor Estes, Edward Eager. I suppose Estes’ ‘Moffats’ could be considered a mini-series, and Enright’s ‘Melendy’ books too. And I utterly adored books by Noel Streatfeild. Because each had the word ‘shoes’ in the title, I thought they might be a series. They weren’t—the US publisher had changed the original British titles to capitalize on the popularity of the first book available in the US, Ballet Shoes. At first I was disappointed because I wanted to read more about the Ballet Shoes characters, but I recovered because all the books were so good.

Why did I love series books?  I think it was partly because I never wanted a story to end completely.  Even if a book had a satisfying resolution, I wanted to know what the characters did next. And then there was the ease and pleasure of jumping into a new book with an awareness of its inhabitants. It was nice having a new story with familiar characters.

So it was only natural for me that when I began to write, I wrote series. I set my first series in a summer camp (“Camp Sunnyside Friends”), because I wanted an environment where a group of girls would be essentially on their own. There were 21 books in the series. In “Replica,” 24 books, I created a girl who discovers that she’s a genetically modified clone, who can do almost anything better than anyone else but has to keep this a secret since she was rescued as an infant from a nefarious plot to form a new improved race of people. In “Gifted”, there were nine characters whose gifts were not academic superiority, but extraordinary skills like mind-reading and seeing the future. This was supposed to be a limited series of nine books, one for each character, but unfortunately, despite good reviews and decent sales, the publisher cancelled it after six books. I still get email from readers demanding the last three books, and I dream of the publisher deciding to re-release them with all nine books.

There were other series: “Out of This World,” “Three of a Kind,” “Video High,” “Club Paradise.” Between these, I wrote single titles, but I always wanted to get back to a series. And now I have “The Spyglass Sisterhood.

What I love about this series is that I have four girls who have no exceptional talents or mysterious gifts. I wanted to explore the unique personalities and feelings of these girls who neither stand out or fit in, the kind of girls we all knew in middle school (or maybe we were those girls). I wanted characters who weren’t obviously fascinating, like a genetically enhanced clone or a mind-reader, but characters who were amazingly interesting once you got to know them.

And while there’s nothing supernatural about these girls, there’s a little magic in the stories. It’s in a telescope, a spyglass that sits in the turret of one girl’s home, and it shows more than any telescope can normally show. What the girls must figure out is what the visions really mean, and what—if anything—they should do about what they see.

All four girls are in every book, but each has her own book from her exclusive point of view. Each girl has the opportunity to reveal herself more deeply, and also provide the reader with her own perception of the others, so we get to know all of them better.

As a writer, I think I’m feeling closer to these characters than I’ve ever felt to other characters in my books. They’re very real to me, and I find them almost developing on their own. I don’t know if this series will continue as long as some of my other series have, but I certainly hope so. Mainly, because I’ll have a very hard time saying goodbye to them.

Meet the author

Marilyn Kaye was born in New Britain, Connecticut and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a B.A. and Master’s in Library Science from Emory University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where she studied children’s and young adult literature with Zena Sutherland. She was an associate professor in library science at St. John’s University for 23 years, and has written over 120 books for children and young adults. The Spyglass Sisterhood is Marylin’s first series with Holiday Holiday. She can be found on Facebook and as ‘MarilynKayeParis’ on Instagram.

I’m With the (Vampire) Band, a guest post by Marlene Perez

Writers have always found inspiration from a multitude of sources. For me, television, books, and music sparked my imagination. My taste in music was as deeply personal as the kinds of books I read. For me, the two have been intertwined since childhood and I still hang out in my room listening to my vinyl record collection and reading. Or writing.

I created a playlist for every manuscript I’ve written. Sometimes, I listened to the songs before I wrote, which would bring me into the world more quickly somehow. Other times, I would listen as I wrote, feeling the emotional highs and lows the music evoked. My Dead Is series even featured a jukebox that provides clues to the mystery through song titles, so those playlists always included the clue songs.

The titles of my new teen vampire trilogy, THE AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY, I’M WITH THE BANNED, and A SUCKER FOR YOU, were all riffs on song titles. It wasn’t too surprising then that the vampires in the books were musicians. In THE AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY, the main character, Tansy Mariotti, went to a party with her two friends to listen to a band, but got more than she bargained for. Spoiler alert, Tansy hadn’t expected the band, even though they were called The Drainers, to be a group of bloodsucking fiends.

Writing about vampires can be challenging because of the depth and breadth of the vampire canon. From Dracula to Twilight, authors have written about every kind of vampire under the sun, even vampires who can actually spend time in those golden rays without turning to ash. As I was figuring out what kind of vampire I wanted to inhabit my fictional world, it sometimes seemed like everything had been done, even vampires in a band. In Anne Rice’s novel Queen of the Damned, the vampire Lestat joined a rock band, and his song woke the queen of all vampires, and boy was she cranky.

Stories of real-life musicians and how they treated their fans were the inspiration for The Drainers, my fictional vampire band. In some cases, it was almost unbelievable the way certain rock legends treated their fans. If you type in the name of your favorite artist and the word “groupies” into a search engine, you might find some disturbing stuff. But fair warning, it made it impossible for me to listen to their music the same way. In my trilogy, the vampires were bloodthirsty creatures, willing to use their power to compel their fans to give them their blood. It’s no wonder Tansy wanted to stake them.

Like many writers of paranormal fiction, I was a huge fan of (most seasons) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What’s not to love about a kickass yet vulnerable main character, her loyal friends, and her hot vampire love interest? Not to mention the live music at The Bronze. I found the whole Spike/Buffy pairing incredibly squicky and not just because I was Team Angel. Despite some shortcomings (Spike, Riley, and what we later learned about the treatment of cast members), I admired the overall tone of the show. Buffy the Vampire Slayer mixed humor with more serious themes, such as friendship, consent, and death. The show inspired the snark meets dark tone of the Afterlife trilogy as well as Tansy’s weapon of choice for fighting vampires.

One of my favorite vampire novels was Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Sunshine was a post-apocalyptic novel where vampires were out in the open, instead of part of some secret, hidden world. The world of Sunshine held a variety of paranormal creatures, including vampires, witches, and werewolves. Robin McKinley took a common “rule” about vampires, the inability to withstand the sun, and made it her own. Sunshine helped me to think about what strengths and weaknesses my vampires had. Would they be creatures of the night or able to glitter in the sun? How can you fight a vampire? How can you kill a vampire?

Tansy learns the answers to some of these questions in the first book, but in I’M WITH THE BANNED, the second book in the Afterlife trilogy (October 5, 2021), she and her friends had a whole new paranormal creature to figure out. They had to discover who was murdering werewolves before someone sets off a vampire-werewolf war.

And finally, in A SUCKER FOR YOU (TBD 2022), somehow Tansy found herself in a van full of werewolves heading to Vegas to stop an elopement and just maybe prevent the end of the world. And a certain band might be headlining in Vegas.

If you want to spend a few hours reading and listening, pick up a copy of THE AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY or I’M WITH THE BANNED and check out the playlists for the books. You can find them here on Spotify.



Meet the author

Marlene Perez is the author of books for children and adults, including the best-selling DEAD IS series for teens. DEAD IS THE NEW BLACK was named an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers as well as an ALA Popular Paperback. DEAD IS JUST A RUMOR was on VOYA’s Best Science Fiction, Horror, & Fantasy List.  Her novels have been featured in Girl’s Life, Seventeen, and Cosmopolitan. The first book in her new teen vampire trilogy THE AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY is out now and the second book I’M WITH THE BANNED, will release October 5, 2021.

She grew up in Story City, Iowa and is the youngest of twelve children. She lives in Orange County, California with her husband and children.

Find me on social media.




About I’m with the Banned

I never wanted to be a vampire queen.

But on the bright (if not sunny) side of the debacle, I’ve got a super-hot new boyfriend. And he just might be the perfect guy.

Well, if the perfect guy ghosts you for a month and then comes back to school with a new look, a pack of friends, and a secret. But we have bigger problems.

The Drainers are back. They’re singing a different song, but have they really changed?

Even worse, werewolves’ hearts are being ripped from their bodies—which is putting the people I love in danger. I need to figure out who is behind the murders before there’s an all-out vampire werewolf war.

No one is going to mess with my friends, even the ones who like to get wild and howl at the moon.

Sometimes, all a girl can do is grab her tiara and start kicking some supernatural ass…

The Afterlife series is best enjoyed in order.
Reading Order:
Book #1 The Afterlife of the Party
Book #2 I’m with the Banned

ISBN-13: 9781649370099
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 10/05/2021
Series: Afterlife #2
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years

Reading Your Way Through High School, a book gallery by grade

At my day job, I recently began making some RA tools for the youth services staff that highlighted novels for youth that featured a main character in each grade, K-12. I knew when I got to YA that it would be both harder and easier. Easier, because I’ve read a lot of YA and already had some books I wanted to recommend. Harder, because I knew that finding books that specified that a character was in the 9th or 10th grade would be harder. YA tends to skew towards the upper end of High School, featuring characters in their junior or senior year, and they are typically 17 years old. Middle grade tends to feature a character in middle school or typically in the 8th grade. So here are some of the titles that I have found that specificy the grade of the main character in high school. Please note, though I struggled to find books with 9th or 10th grade main characters, I could go on and on for 11th and 12th grade main characters. This is by no means a complete list. In fact, if you have recommendations please leave them in the comments.

Freshman Year of High School

Sophomore Year of High School

Junior Year of High School

Senior Year of High School

Book Review: Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil

Publisher’s description

Inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia and the Grimm fairy tale “Brother and Sister,” Michelle Ruiz Keil’s second novel follows two siblings torn apart and struggling to find each other in early ’90s Portland.

All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it’s time for fifteen-year-old Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When their father brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away against his will. Furious at her father’s betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a queer Robin Hood who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she tracks down Orr. 

Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp and fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house. In their first summer apart, Iph and Orr must learn to navigate their respective new spaces of music, romance, and sex-work activism—and find each other before a fantastical transformation fractures their family forever. 

Told through a lens of magical realism and steeped in myth, Summer in the City of Roses is a dazzling tale about the pain and beauty of growing up.

Amanda’s thoughts

Sometimes a book is so wonderful and lovely and alive that I almost feel angry. I feel angry that I will have to leave the world of the story eventually, that someone can write so breathtakingly beautifully, that someone’s brain was able to come up with such a strange and special story. I finished this book and thought, well, great—now what am I supposed to do with myself? I mean that in the best way. In the way that you just had a great experience, and will never experience it in that same new and amazing way, and what, I’m just supposed to pick up some other book and pretend I’m not thinking about Orr and Iph and all their new friends?!

You can read the summary up above my thoughts. I’m not going to talk about what happens other than to say I felt completely wrapped up and brought along on the adventures Orr and Iph have while apart (and eventually together) in Portland. It’s the 90s, in this book (you know–that time I was a music-obsessed punk teen, an era my brain INSISTS on thinking was maybe 10 years ago—don’t correct me). The story is full of feminism and punk rock and adventure and magic and love. There’s poetry, theater, sex workers, books, beautiful weirdos in crummy apartments, mythology, fairytales, animals, and love love love. It’s a weird, dark, happy, sad, real, fantastical story. It’s serious and upsetting and whimsical and hopeful. Just go read it. This is a standout book about runaways finding what they need in the strangest of ways. Just lovely.

Review copy (finished hardcover) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781641291712
Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/06/2021
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years

Book Mail: Anthologies, graphic novels, nonfiction, and more!

It’s only in the past few weeks that all three people in my household have been vaccinated. I took a year leave from school, my son did distance learning from March of 2020 thorough this entire past school year, and my husband has been working from home this whole time too. If there is an illness to get, my body will get it. So we really have been hunkered down at home forever, with little other human interaction. I’ve always been a huge fan of mail, but in the past year-plus, it’s pretty much been the highlight of my day. If I’m lucky, the neighbor’s dog will be out and will run over to nuzzle me while I get the mail. So to say that I am thrilled to be getting so much book mail again is an understatement. I’m glad for it for the sake of books going out again, ARCs arriving again, AND for delivering something fun to me most days.

I share all of the book mail that comes in on my Twitter when it arrives, so if you’re not already doing so, hop on over there and follow me. I also give away 100% of the books I get, with giveaways every few weeks on Twitter, often only for teachers and librarians. Everything that comes into my house goes back out in some fashion to find a new reader. Many of the books I get are reviewed here at TLT as either longer, in-depth reviews or quick Post-It Note reviews. Try as I may, I cannot read everything! But I really do try!

All descriptions from the publishers.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (ISBN-13: 9781984812537 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 12-17)

Get Out meets Holly Jackson in this YA social thriller where survival is not a guarantee.

Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.

Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win.

Now You Say Yes by Bill Harley (ISBN-13: 9781682632475 Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company Publication date: 08/01/2021, Ages 10-14)

When her mother dies, fifteen-year-old Mari and is desperate to avoid being caught up in the foster system. Again. And to complicate matters, she is now the only one who can take care of her super-smart and on-the-spectrum nine-year-old stepbrother, Conor.

Is there anyone Mari can trust to help them? Certainly not her mother’s current boyfriend, Dennis. Not the doctors or her teachers, who would be obliged to call in social services. So in a desperate move, Mari takes Conor and sets out to find their estranged grandmother, hoping to throw themselves at the mercy of the only person who might take them in.

On their way to New England, the duo experiences the snarls of LA traffic, the backroads of the Midwest, and a monumental stop in Missouri where they witness the solar eclipse, an event with which Conor is obsessed. Mari also learns about the inner workings of her stepbrother’s mind and about her connections to him and to the world…and maybe even a little about her own place in it.

A beautiful exploration of identity and family, this heartwarming and engaging middle grade novel comes from renowned storyteller and two-time Grammy Award winner Bill Harley.

Accused: My Story of Injustice by Adama Bah, Dave Eggers (Editor), Zainab Nasrati (Editor), Zoe Ruiz (Editor), Amanda Uhle (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781324016632 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: I, Witness Series #1, Ages 9-12)

Launching a propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young woman shares her harrowing experience of being wrongly accused of terrorism.

Adama Bah grew up in East Harlem after immigrating from Conakry, Guinea, and was deeply connected to her community and the people who lived there. But as a thirteen-year-old after the events of September 11, 2001, she began experiencing discrimination and dehumanization as prejudice toward Muslim people grew. Then, on March 24, 2005, FBI agents arrested Adama and her father. Falsely accused of being a potential suicide bomber, Adama spent weeks in a detention center being questioned under suspicion of terrorism.

With sharp and engaging writing, Adama recounts the events surrounding her arrest and its impact on her life—the harassment, humiliation, and persecution she faced for crimes she didn’t commit. Accused brings forward a crucial and unparalleled first-person perspective of American culture post-9/11 and the country’s discrimination against Muslim Americans, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people.

Hurricane: My Story of Resilience by Salvador Gomez-Colon, Dave Eggers (Editor), Zainab Nasrati (Editor), Zoe Ruiz (Editor), Amanda Uhle (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781324016656 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: I, Witness Series #2, Ages 9-12)

Launching a propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young man shares how he combated Puerto Rico’s public health emergency after Hurricane Maria.

Suffering heavy damage in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rican communities lacked access to clean water and electricity. Salvador Gómez-Colón couldn’t ignore the basic needs of his homeland, and knew that nongovernmental organizations and larger foreign philanthropies could only do so much. With unstoppable energy and a deep knowledge of local culture, Salvador founded Light and Hope for Puerto Rico and raised more than $100,000 to purchase and distribute solar-powered lamps and hand-powered washing machines to households in need.

With a voice that is both accessible and engaging, Salvador recalls living through the catastrophic storm and grappling with the destruction it left behind. Hurricane brings forward a captivating first-person account of strength, resilience, and determination, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people.

Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn (ISBN-13: 9780525515609 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 12-17)

From Los Angeles Times Book Prize Award winner and Edgar Award nominee Malla Nunn comes a stunning portrait of a family divided and a powerful story of how friendship saves and heals.

When Amandla wakes up on her fifteenth birthday, she knows it’s going to be one of her mother’s difficult days. Her mother has had another vision. This one involves Amandla wearing a bedsheet loosely stitched as a dress. An outfit, her mother says, is certain to bring Amandla’s father back home, as if he were the prince and this was the fairytale ending their family was destined for. But in truth, Amandla’s father has long been gone—since before Amandla was born—and even her mother’s memory of him is hazy. In fact, many of her mother’s memories from before Amandla was born are hazy. It’s just one of the many reasons people in Sugar Town give them strange looks—that and the fact her mother is white and Amandla is Black.

When Amandla finds a mysterious address in the bottom of her mother’s handbag along with a large amount of cash, she decides it’s finally time to get answers about her mother’s life. What she discovers will change the shape and size of her family forever. But with her best friends at her side, Amandla is ready to take on family secrets and the devil himself. These Sugar Town queens are ready to take over the world to expose the hard truths of their lives.

Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury (Illustrator), Nate Powell (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781419730696 Publisher: ABRAMS Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 13-18)

First you march, then you run. From the #1 bestselling, award–winning team behind March comes the first book in their new, groundbreaking graphic novel series, Run: Book One

To John Lewis, the civil rights movement came to an end with the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. But that was after more than five years as one of the preeminent figures of the movement, leading sit–in protests and fighting segregation on interstate busways as an original Freedom Rider. It was after becoming chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and being the youngest speaker at the March on Washington. It was after helping organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer and the ensuing delegate challenge at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. And after coleading the march from Selma to Montgomery on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” All too often, the depiction of history ends with a great victory. But John Lewis knew that victories are just the beginning. In Run: Book One, John Lewis and longtime collaborator Andrew Aydin reteam with Nate Powell—the award–winning illustrator of the March trilogy—and are joined by L. Fury—making an astonishing graphic novel debut—to tell this often overlooked chapter of civil rights history.

A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert (ISBN-13: 9781635830651 Publisher: North Star Editions Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 14-18)

When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice. While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.

Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.

Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.

Redemptor (Raybearer Book 2) by Jordan Ifueko (ISBN-13: 9781419739842 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 08/17/2021 Series: Raybearer Series, Ages 12-18)

The hotly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestselling YA fantasy about Tarisai’s quest to change her fate

For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar’s throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities.

Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that’s what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire.

With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can’t quite trust . . . Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her. But in this finale to the Raybearer duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer (ISBN-13: 9781250822956 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 08/31/2021, Ages 13-18)

Enola Holmes is back! Nancy Springer’s nationally bestselling series and breakout Netflix sensation returns to beguile readers young and old in Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche.

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman—after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’—and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know—she’d feel—if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover—or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely—and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help—from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!

Enola Holmes returns in her first adventure since the hit Netflix movie brought her back on the national bestseller lists, introducing a new generation to this beloved character and series.

The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young (ISBN-13: 9781250823724 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 12-18)

New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with The Last Legacy, a captivating standalone about family and blood ties, reinventing yourself, and controlling your own destiny.

When a letter from her uncle Henrik arrives on Bryn Roth’s eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay.

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora by Saraciea J. Fennell (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781250763426 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 12-18)

Edited by The Bronx Is Reading founder Saraciea J. Fennell and featuring an all-star cast of Latinx contributors, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed is a ground-breaking anthology that will spark dialogue and inspire hope.

In Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed, bestselling and award-winning authors as well as up-and-coming voices interrogate the different myths and stereotypes about the Latinx diaspora. These fifteen original pieces delve into everything from ghost stories and superheroes, to memories in the kitchen and travels around the world, to addiction and grief, to identity and anti-Blackness, to finding love and speaking your truth. Full of both sorrow and joy, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed is an essential celebration of this rich and diverse community. 

The bestselling and award-winning contributors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Cristina Arreola, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Naima Coster, Natasha Diaz, Saraciea J. Fennell, Kahlil Haywood, Zakiya Jamal, Janel Martinez, Jasminne Mendez, Meg Medina, Mark Oshiro, Julian Randall, Lilliam Rivera, and Ibi Zoboi.

Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab by Priya Huq (ISBN-13: 9781419740190 Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 10-18)

In this middle-grade graphic novel, Nisrin will have to rely on faith, friends, and family to help her recover after she is the target of a hate crime

Nisrin is a 13-year-old Bangladeshi-American girl living in Milwaukie, Oregon, in 2002. As she nears the end of eighth grade, she gives a presentation for World Culture Day about Bangladesh while wearing a traditional cultural dress. On her way home, she is the victim of a hate crime when a man violently attacks her for wearing a headscarf.

Deeply traumatized by the experience, Nisrin spends the summer depressed and isolated. Other than weekly therapy, Nisrin doesn’t leave the house until fall arrives and it’s time for her to start freshman year at a new school. The night before class starts, Nisrin makes a decision. She tells her family she’s going to start wearing hijab, much to their dismay. Her mother and grandparent’s shocked and angry reactions confuse her—but they only strengthen her resolve.

This choice puts Nisrin on a path to not only discover more about Islam, but also her family’s complicated relationship with the religion, and the reasons they left Bangladesh in the first place. On top of everything else, she’s struggling to fit in at school—her hijab makes her a target for students and faculty alike. But with the help from old friends and new, Nisrin is starting to figure out what really makes her happy. Piece by Piece is an original graphic novel about growing up and choosing your own path, even if it leads you to a different place than you expected.

The Lost Girls: A Vampire Revenge Story by Sonia Hartl (ISBN-13: 9781645673149 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 14-17)

Getting over Your Vampire Ex is as Easy as Killing Him and Stealing His Girlfriend

Holly Liddell has been stuck with crimped hair since 1987 when she agreed to let her boyfriend, Elton, turn her into a vampire. But when he ditches her at a gas station a few decades into their eternity together, she realizes that being young forever actually means working graveyard shifts at Taco Bell, sleeping in seedy motels, and being supernaturally compelled to follow your ex from town to town—at least until Holly meets Elton’s other exes.

It seems that Holly isn’t the only girl Elton seduced into this wretched existence. He turned Ida in 1921, then Rose in 1954, and he abandoned them both before Holly was even born. Now Rose and Ida want to kill him before he can trick another girl into eternal adolescence, and they’ll need Holly’s help to do it. And once Holly starts falling for Elton’s vulnerable new conquest, Parker, she’ll do anything to save her.

To kill Elton for good, Holly and her friends will have to dig up their pasts, rob a bank, and reconcile with the people they’ve hurt in their search for eternal love. And to win the girl, Holly will have to convince Parker that she’s more than just Elton’s crazy ex—even though she is trying to kill him.

The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Herrman (ISBN-13: 9781984816702 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 12-17)

In this dark and twisty feminist historical mystery, a teenage girl starts a new life as a grave robber but quickly becomes entangled in a murderer’s plans.

Soon after her best friend Kitty mysteriously dies, orphaned seventeen-year-old Molly Green is sent away to live with her “aunt.” With no relations that she knows of, Molly assumes she has been sold as a maid for the price of an extra donation in the church orphanage’s coffers. Such a thing is not unheard of. There are only so many options for an unmarried girl in 1850s Philadelphia. Only, when Molly arrives, she discovers her aunt is very much real, exceedingly wealthy, and with secrets of her own. Secrets and wealth she intends to share—for a price.

Molly’s estranged aunt Ava, has built her empire by robbing graves and selling the corpses to medical students who need bodies to practice surgical procedures. And she wants Molly to help her procure the corpses. As Molly learns her aunt’s trade in the dead of night and explores the mansion by day, she is both horrified and deeply intrigued by the anatomy lessons held at the old church on her aunt’s property. Enigmatic Doctor LaValle’s lessons are a heady mixture of knowledge and power and Molly has never wanted anything more than to join his male-only group of students. But the cost of inclusion is steep and with a murderer loose in the city, the pursuit of power and opportunity becomes a deadly dance.

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (ISBN-13: 9781547604661 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 13-17)

From New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer comes a blockbuster fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down. 

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand. 

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion—it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited. 

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most—but it’s still not enough. 

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first. 

Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.

The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis (ISBN-13: 9781547606375 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-11)

Perfect for fans of Robert Beatty and Shannon Hale comes a magical new middle grade fantasy series about a young shapeshifter trying to save her family.

Deep within an enchanted forest lies a castle where a set of triplets and their sorceress mother have lived for years—safe from the decades-long war for the Raven Throne that rages in the kingdom. Cordelia, one of the triplets, has the power to become any animal with just a thought, and she yearns to discover more about the world outside her castle.

But one day, the world comes to her, when the eldest of the triplets becomes the newest heir to the throne. Knowing that being named heir means certain death, Cordelia’s mother hid the truth about which child is the eldest when she hid them in the forest. When her family is captured, it’s up to Cordelia to use her powers to keep her siblings hidden and discover the truth about the Raven Heir—before it’s too late.

From the author of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart comes a thrilling new fantasy full of magic, adventure, and the power of family.

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames (ISBN-13: 9781645672067 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 14-17)

Debut voice Alison Ames delivers with a chilling, feminist thriller, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Sawkill Girls.

Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold on everyone who lives there.

Clem and Nina form a perfect loop—best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Which is why the girls decide to enter the mine themselves.

The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider (ISBN-13: 9780593351024 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/21/2021 Series: Emry Merlin #1, Ages 14-17)

Channeling the modern humor of A Knight’s Tale, bestselling author Robyn Schneider creates a Camelot that becomes the ultimate teen rom-com hotspot in this ultra-fresh take on the Arthurian legend. 

Welcome to the great kingdom of Camelot! Prince Arthur’s a depressed botanist who would rather marry a library than a princess, Lancelot’s been demoted to castle guard after a terrible lie, and Emry Merlin has arrived at the castle disguised as her twin brother since girls can’t practice magic.

Life at court is full of scandals, lies, and backstabbing courtiers, so what’s a casually bisexual teen wizard masquerading as a boy to do? Other than fall for the handsome prince, stir up trouble with the foppish Lord Gawain, and offend the prissy Princess Guinevere.

When the truth comes out with disastrous consequences, Emry has to decide whether she’ll risk everything for the boy she loves, or give up her potential to become the greatest wizard Camelot has ever known.

The Insiders by Mark Oshiro (ISBN-13: 9780063008106 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 8-12)

Three kids who don’t belong. A room that shouldn’t exist. A year that will change everything.

Perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead and Meg Medina, this debut middle grade novel from award-winning author Mark Oshiro is a hopeful and heartfelt coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t fit in.

San Francisco and Orangevale may be in the same state, but for Héctor Muñoz, they might as well be a million miles apart. Back home, being gay didn’t mean feeling different. At Héctor’s new school, he couldn’t feel more alone.

Most days, Héctor just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of magic, friendship, and adventure.

As If on Cue by Marisa Kanter (ISBN-13: 9781534445802 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 12-18)

A pair of fierce foes are forced to work together to save the arts at their school in this swoony YA enemies-to-lovers romance that fans of Jenny Han and Morgan Matson are sure to adore.

Lifelong rivals Natalie and Reid have never been on the same team. So when their school’s art budget faces cutbacks, of course Natalie finds herself up against her nemesis once more. She’s fighting to direct the school’s first ever student-written play, but for her small production to get funding, the school’s award-winning band will have to lose it. Reid’s band. And he’s got no intention of letting the show go on.

But when their rivalry turns into an all-out prank war that goes too far, Natalie and Reid have to face the music, resulting in the worst compromise: writing and directing a musical. Together. At least if they deliver a sold-out show, the school board will reconsider next year’s band and theater budget. Everyone could win.

Except Natalie and Reid.

Because after spending their entire lives in competition, they have absolutely no idea how to be co-anything. And they certainly don’t know how to deal with the feelings that are inexplicably, weirdly, definitely developing between them…

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber (ISBN-13: 9781250268396 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 09/28/2021 Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart #1, Ages 13-18)

Once Upon a Broken Heart marks the launch of a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after from Stephanie Garber, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another. 

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game — and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

Drawn That Way by Elissa Sussman, Arielle Jovellanos (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781534492974 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 12-18)

Moxie meets the world of animation in this fresh, unputdownable novel about a teen girl determined to prove herself in the boys’ club of her dream industry no matter what it takes.

Hayley Saffitz is confident, ambitious, and intent on following in the footsteps of her hero, renowned animation director, Bryan Beckett. When she’s given a spot in his once-in-a-lifetime summer program, Hayley devises a plan: snag one of the internship’s coveted directing opportunities. Dazzle Bryan with her talent. Secure a job post-graduation. Live her dream.

Except she doesn’t land one of the director positions. All of those go to boys. And one of them is Bryan’s son, Bear.

Despite Bear’s obvious apathy for the internship, Hayley soon realizes that there’s more to him than she expected. As they work together, the animosity between them thaws into undeniable chemistry and maybe something… more.

But Hayley can’t stop thinking about the chance she was refused.

Determined to make a name for herself, Hayley recruits the five other young women in the program to develop their own short to sneak into the film festival at the end of the summer. As the internship winds down, however, one question remains: Will Hayley conform to the expectations of her idol, or will she risk her blossoming relationship with Bear—and her future—to prove that she’s exactly as talented as she thinks she is?

Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley (ISBN-13: 9781645673323 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 14-17)

From the critically acclaimed author of Deposing Nathan comes an explosive examination of identity, voice, and the indelible ways our stories are rewritten by others.

In the beginning, Owen’s story was blank . . . then he was befriended by Lily, the aspiring author who helped him find his voice. Together, the two have spent years navigating first love and amassing an inseparable friend group. But all of it is upended one day when his school’s administration learns Owen’s secret: that he was sexually assaulted by a classmate.

In the ensuing investigation, everyone scrambles to hold their worlds together. 

Owen, still wrestling with his self-destructive thoughts and choices. 

His father, a mission-driven military vet ready to start a war to find his son’s attacker. 

The school bureaucrats, who seem most concerned with kowtowing to the local media attention. 

And Lily, who can’t learn that Owen is the mystery victim everyone is talking about . . . because once she does, it will set off a chain of events that will change their lives forever.

Heartbreaking and hopeful, this is a coming-of-age story that explores how we rebuild after the world comes crumbling down.

Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman (ISBN-13: 9781534482531 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 10/12/2021, Ages 8-12)

In the debut middle grade novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Gayle Forman comes a poignant and powerful coming-of-age story that follows a young girl and her new friend as they learn about family, friendship, allyship, and finding your way in a complicated world.

It’s the summer of 1987, and all ten-year-old Bug wants to do is go to the beach with her older brother and hang out with the locals on the boardwalk. But Danny wants to be with his own friends, and Bug’s mom is too busy, so Bug is stuck with their neighbor Philip’s nephew, Frankie.

Bug’s not too excited about hanging out with a kid she’s never met, but they soon find some common ground. And as the summer unfolds, they find themselves learning some important lessons about each other, and the world.

Like what it means to be your true self and how to be a good ally for others. That family can be the people you’re related to, but also the people you choose to have around you. And that even though life isn’t always fair, we can all do our part to make it more just.

Hunting by Stars: (A Marrow Thieves Novel) by Cherie Dimaline (ISBN-13: 978-1-64700-247-3 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 10/19/2021, Ages 12-17)

From the acclaimed author of The Marrow Thieves comes a thrilling new story about hope and survival that New York Times bestselling author Angeline Boulley called “a revelatory must-read”

Years ago, when plagues and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up—or are re-opened—across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams.

Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is—and what it will take to escape.

Meanwhile, out in the world, his found family searches for him and dodges new dangers—school Recruiters, a blood cult, even the land itself. When their paths finally collide, French must decide how far he is willing to go—and how many loved ones is he willing to betray—in order to survive. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel expands on the world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, and it will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales, Cale Dietrich (ISBN-13: 9781250805805 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 12/07/2021, Ages 13-18)

Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich’s “If This Gets Out is an absolute showstopper! Equal parts edgy and adorable, this bright, joyful book has everything I look for in a queer YA romance.” —Phil Stamper, bestselling author of The Gravity of Us

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long (ISBN-13: 9781250785060 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 01/11/2022, Ages 12-18)

Meg Long’s Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is a captivating debut about survival, found family, and the bond between a girl and a wolf that delivers a fresh twist on classic survival stories and frontier myths. 

On a frozen wasteland of a planet, a girl is on the run with a wolf who is born to be a killer but bound to be her guide. As they fight to escape ice goblins, giant bears, and a ruthless leader intent on trapping them both, one question drives them relentlessly forward: where do you turn when there is nowhere to hide?

Cindy Crushes Programming: Let’s Talk Dungeons and Dragons Beyond, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

I recently went to a program run by Natalie Dejonghe. She taught all about how to use Dungeons and Dragons Beyond (DND Beyond). It was really helpful and has given me a few ideas on how to improve my libraries Dungeons and Dragons program. I asked Natalie here to ask her some information on DND Beyond and how she uses it for programming. I really liked it because it help do all the math for leveling characters.

Interview with Natalie DeJonghe

Hello Natalie, Thank you so much for being here. How many years have you been playing Dungeons and Dragons and what edition do you use?

ND: I have been playing D&D regularly for about 7 years, but played a bit here and there since I was a kid. I currently run all my games using the 5th edition put out by Wizards of the Coast.

How does one start using Dungeons and Dragons Beyond?

ND: I think the best way to get started with DND Beyond is to play around with the character building tool. This is a great starting point because the site will walk you through the entire process with tips and links to more information on things. It’s a really straightforward way to start exploring D&D without having to dive into the rule books right away.

How do you use it when programming?

ND: I use it a lot for tracking characters. My players can share their character sheet with me through DnD Beyond and then I can see changes that happen as they level up. There is also a free encountered builder that DMs can use to figure out how many monsters to add to a battle, how much experience it will give players, etc. I also have a lot of personally purchased content on the site so I can also use it to pull maps and adventures.

What is you favorite tip or trick for using the website?

ND: For DMs, my favorite thing is definitely using the quick character build for NPCs. It will give you a fully fleshed out character sheet complete with portrait. I find that this makes keeping track of NPCs in the game a lot easier.

How does it work when playing a game in person versus playing a game online?

ND: There’s definitely more of a learning curve when playing online because it can be more difficult to see the faces of players so you may not realize if someone is confused about something. But I think if you pace yourself and make sure to start out explaining everything, thatit works pretty well. Most of my players have been brand new beginners and we managed to get through things pretty well.

In-person can make it a little easier to keep track of how players are feeling about things, but there’s also a higher possibility of players getting distracted with side conversations. In-person can also be a bit more hands on because you can have large, drawn maps, miniatures, etc. You can have that to an extent in an online game, but being able to actually touch everything does make things easier for many players. Whether you’re playing online or in-person, I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no one right way to run a campaign or play a session. If you’re a player, try weird things.

You’d be amazed at what your DM will let you get away with if you can spin a good enough story. If you’re a DM, remember that while D&D does have a set of rules, as the DM you’re running the story. If adhering too strictly to the rules is going to make things too difficult for players, then adapt as needed. It’s your game. Make it fun for yourself and your players and, in
my opinion, you have a successful campaign.

More DND here at TLT:

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

#FactsMatter: Nonfiction Graphic Novel Series for Tweens and Teens

So this year we are trying to talk more about nonfiction. So how about some nonfiction in graphic novel form? There are a lot of great nonfiction graphic novel series out there, including some great biographies (They Called Us Enemy by George Takei and Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka), a lot at Civil Rights (The March series by John Lewis), and even a look at the events of 9/11. Today, though, I want to share some ongoing nonfiction graphic novel series with you. Sometimes I just like series because I like to have items that are connected under the same heading and branding.

Big Ideas That Changed the World

The Big Ideas That Changed the World series by Abrams takes a look at – well – big ideas that changed the world. There are currently 3 books and they look at vaccines, computers and the rocket to the moon. I hope they add more titles to the series.

History Comics

There are more than 3 books in the History Comics series by Macmillan and they cover some pretty interesting topics, including the Challenger disaster and the mystery of the Roanoke Colony. For people who maybe don’t love history – and by people, I might mean me – it can be a great way to dive into topics you want to learn more about but don’t want to read through long, heavy tomes.

Science Comics

Look, more science! This series is also by Macmillan. There are around 25 titles in this series and they cover a good variety of topics, including the digestive system, coral reefs, and plagues. Again, it’s a great introduction to topics with a fun, stylistic approach.

Maker Comics

What do you know, it’s another nonfiction graphic novel series by Macmillan. This series covers great topics with a very how to approach and it’s great for the maker movement. From cooking to gardening to understanding the basics of the scientific method, you’ll find something for everyone in one of these 9 titles. This is another series I hope continues for a long time.

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales

Back to history for this series, which is once again by Abrams. This covers a wide variety of topics and blends fun with informative. I love this it covers topics like the Donner party and spies. And for your Hamilton fans, there is one on Lafeyette.

Graphic novels are wicked popular and a great for a wide variety of people (they’re not just for kids!) And it’s great to see that more and more graphic novels are tackling nonfiction, which is also very popular (and not just for kids!) Facts are fun, and we want to raise up a generation of informed and information seeking readers, so I’m so glad that these series exist.

For more of our #FactsMatter posts, check out the archvies

Life as a Literary Agent and an Author: The Good and the Bad and Everything in Between, a guest post by Katelyn Detweiler

Sometimes, on especially chaotic and sleep deprived days, I can’t help but to question my life decisions—specifically, the choice to be both a literary agent and an author, to surround myself with manuscripts and words and publishing all day every day, weekdays and weekends, daytime and nighttime. (Working fulltime from home with a two-year-old wild child, I should add!) The words, the sentences, one long paragraph after another… they’re always there. Inescapable. It’s a lot, to take what is one of your greatest passions—books, stories, writing—and turn it into not just one job, but two. At this point in life, I maybe read one book a year purely for pleasure, two if I’m lucky, and even then, my brain is stubbornly in editorial mode as I go along. What notes would I have had, if the book was one of my authors’ projects? What could have made this character stronger, that theme clearer? Is this scene necessary? Is that idea overstated? 

So yes, as I said… it’s a lot. But there’s a reason I made the decision to submerge myself daily in words, a veritable waterfall of them, and a reason I still stand by that choice at the end of every single day—and wouldn’t change a thing, not really, not ever. The truth is, I live for these words. To create my own, but much more than that, to watch so many other writers create, too. To walk alongside authors on their grand writing journeys, helping to take dreams and turn them into realities. Honestly, it never gets old. Particularly The Phone Call, telling a writer their manuscript will someday be an actual published book on people’s shelves. (Admittedly, sometimes I weep as much as they do!) But I’m here for every part of it, the good and the bad and all the daily in between. 

I was an agent first and foremost. I graduated from Penn State with an English degree and my eyes set on publishing, and nothing else. No Plan B. I started in the marketing department of Macmillan Children’s, a great way to get a broad perspective on all the many roles in publishing, and then soon moved to the agenting side. I wanted to be more hands-on with authors, more hands-on with text. While I’d always dabbled in my own writing from an early age, I liked the prospect of it more than the actual craft. Besides, it was scary enough to move from my small town in Pennsylvania to work in New York City publishing—that was a gigantic enough dream on its own. It felt too absurd to think I could be an author, too. That felt like saying I wanted to be a rock star or a princess. Impossible.

But then a few years into agenting, I had an idea. A pregnant teen virgin in our day and age. What would her parents say, her best friends, her boyfriend? I had the idea, and that idea was outrageously stubborn. The idea screamed YOU MUST WRITE ME, and so one day, I sat down and I did. I wrote paragraphs that became pages that eventually, somehow, magically became a full manuscript. And then my amazing boss Jill Grinberg read it and said she’d… be my agent. Boss/agent/mentor/friend all rolled up into one. It was a dream I never would have dared to have for myself. The project sold—IMMACULATE, and an unwritten companion novel—and I became two things: agent and author.

Four books in, I still mostly identify myself as agent. When people ask what I do, that’s what I say. The natural instinct. Usually my husband or mom or someone else will chime in that I’m also an author. Oh, right. It’s not that I forget, but it’s also not what I spend every day focusing on. Being present and available for my authors is priority number one, work-wise. It drives and defines most of my weekdays, sunup to sundown, when I’m not building LEGO trucks or cleaning up smoothie puddles or combating epic toddler bedtime battles. Agenting makes it possible to write, and writing “on the side”—in whatever slivers of free time I can find—makes writing still feel like a hobby. Or hobby-adjacent, at least, even if it’s not always necessarily for joy. There are joyful days, sure. But I wouldn’t say I write because it fills me with joy. I write because once I started, nearly a decade ago now, I couldn’t stop. 

I always say when I’m talking to prospective clients that writing has made me a better agent. And I believe it’s true, wholeheartedly. I’ve been on the other side of the process—the editorial letters, the copy edits, the cover debates, the push for more promotion and support. I’ve been at a big publisher, I’ve been at an indie. I’ve lived and breathed the rollercoaster of birthing a book baby four times over, the many highs and the many lows. 

No matter how much you know, though, from either side of the lane, publishing a book never gets less scary. THE PEOPLE WE CHOOSE, my latest novel, was no exception. In fact, it was probably the trickiest one yet. The one I needed to sit on the most, taking time—years, really—to fully think through my idea and my goals before writing a single word. The hardest one to plot out once I started, and the hardest one to edit, time and time again, to make sure I got it right and did the message justice. It’s not a straightforward story—a girl who, upon turning eighteen, discovers that her sperm donor is the father of her next-door neighbor turned recent love interest. It’s a complicated exploration of family and how we love, who we love. The different kinds of love, and how love can shift and evolve over time. 

Most days I feel like agenting and authoring combined has given me a thicker skin—I love my clients’ projects deeply and wholly, so every rejection is personal, even if I didn’t write the words myself. There’s been a lot of rejection over the years, because the truth is, more projects than not aren’t sold at auction. There’s one perfect editor, one love match, and that’s okay. It only takes one. But that means for every YES, there might be fifteen, twenty, twenty-five (or more!) NOs. Publishing is not for the faint of heart. Not as an author, and not as an agent. Rejection, criticism, disappointment, it’s all part of the process. For my books just as much as for my authors’ books. I’m still human, though. Bad reviews sting, a particularly blunt rejection hurts. Seeing more of it, experiencing rejection in some form or another on a weekly if not daily basis, helps put it into perspective, though: publishing is maddeningly subjective. But true talent rises up. Great stories find their way.

I’ve rambled now, haven’t I? I set out to write about pros and cons of being in both lanes, but really this has become a messy love letter to words and stories. Books are (aside from my family, of course) my Great Love in this life. There’s no other way for me. No other path. 

The days are long, but they’re the best possible days. Now excuse me while I go make another cup of coffee.

Meet the author

Katelyn Detweiler is the author of several books for young adults, including The Undoing of Thistle Tate and The People We Choose. She is also a literary agent and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

About The People We Choose

When 17-year-old Calliope meets her new neighbor Max, their connection is instantaneous, but the revelation of her sperm donor’s identity changes everything.

Calliope Silversmith has always had just two friends in her small Pennsylvania town, Ginger and Noah, and she’s fine with that. She’s never wanted anything more than her best friends, her moms, their house in the woods, and their family-run yoga studio—except maybe knowing who her sperm donor is. Her curiosity has been building for years, and she can finally find out this summer when she turns eighteen.

Then Max and his family move into the house across the woods from Calliope, and she immediately feels a special connection with her new neighbor, one that feels different than just friendship. The stability of her longtime trio wavers over the next few weeks as she and Max start to spend more time together.

But when Calliope makes contact with her sperm donor she learns a surprising truth: her donor is Max’s father. How is this even possible?

As she and Max struggle to redefine their friendship now that they know they’re half-siblings, Calliope realizes she has much to gain by recognizing and accepting that family is both the one she has been born into, and the one she chooses to make.

Perfect for readers looking for stories about family dynamics and fans of The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend.

ISBN-13: 9780823446643
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication date: 05/04/2021
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years